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Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Have *Got* to Have One of These!

By Gull A. Bull:

Gillette Is Betting That Men Want an Even Closer Shave, by Claudia H. Deutsch, New York Times:  ...The people at Gillette have a ... challenge: persuading men that they need to buy yet another new shaving system. Yesterday, Gillette unveiled Fusion (manual) and Fusion Power (battery operated), a wet-shaving system with a lot more bells and whistles than the company's Mach3Turbo and M3Power, currently the top-selling shavers. It also announced a line of shaving creams and gels to go with the new razors... Much is at stake. According to Gillette, American men spent about $1.7 billion on blades and razors last year, and another $300 million on shaving creams and gels. Globally, shaving products accounted for more than $10.4 billion in sales. [Fusion Power jpg]

Gillette will spend a lot to get the word out... "Mach3 will remain No. 1 for the first few years, but Fusion will become our flagship brand," Mr. Kilts said. This is the first time Gillette has introduced a full line of razors and accouterments at once, and marketing experts agree with the decision. "Hats off to these guys; they're offering metrosexual nirvana," said Gary M. Stibel, principal and founder of the New England Consulting Group, a marketing consulting firm in Westport, Conn. "You get a five-bladed razor any way you want it, with power, without power. You get the gel and grooming products to go with it. Men will credit the whole system for a better shave."

Maybe so - but do men really need a better shave than Mach3 provides? Mr. Hoffman is certain they do. Noting that 60 percent of the men who tested the Fusion razors preferred them to the Mach3, he predicts that Fusion will be a "billion-dollar product" by 2008. But marketing experts, while applauding Gillette's willingness to eat into Mach3 sales, are not so sure. "It is an incredibly hard decision, to cannibalize your own leading brand, even when you know that someone else will do it to you if you don't … how much better do men really think their shaving experience needs to be?"... Both Fusion models have five blades instead of Mach3's three, and they are spaced 30 percent closer than are Mach3 blades … The Fusion models have a "Precision Trimmer" blade on the back of the blade cartridge, to be used to trim sideburns or shape facial hair. … Fusion Power gets more techie. Its cartridges - which will also fit on the manual version - have a super-thin coating that Gillette says provides for an even closer shave. And while it runs on conventional AAA batteries, it incorporates an electronic chip to regulate voltage and otherwise ensure that the "shaving experience" is consistent as the battery drains. It even turns itself off...

    Posted by on Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 12:15 AM in Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (2)


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